Washington Nationals: Daniel Murphy’s strikeout totals continue to rise
By Ricky Keeler
While Daniel Murphy has had a good season, the Washington Nationals second baseman has seen his strikeout total go up recently
Since Daniel Murphy signed with the Washington Nationals, he has been one of the biggest surprises in baseball because of his consistency on offense. In a year where a lot of the Nats have had injuries, Murphy has been a near constant in the lineup.
One stat you don’t normally associate Murphy with is strikeouts. In an era where home runs and strikeouts seem to rule the day in baseball, he is one of the few players who seem to put the ball in play all the time. Well, that hasn’t been the case lately.
During the entire first half of the season, Murphy struck out 33 times. With less than a month to go until the postseason, he has struck out 31 times already. That is the third most strikeouts on the Nats since the break (Wilmer Difo and Ryan Zimmerman have more).
In the month of August, the 32-year-old struck out 16 times, which is the most he’s had in any given month since Murphy was with the New York Mets back in 2014.His strikeout percentage this year is at 12.4%, which is also the highest since ’14 (according to Fangraphs).
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So, what has been the reason for the high strikeout total by his standard? One thing you could look at is how he has been pitched differently in the lineup. While Bryce Harper is out, Murphy is going to see different pitches from the opposition.
For example, Murphy has been the number three hitter with Harper on the disabled list. In that spot of the batting order, he has struck out 23 times in 112 at-bats. He’s not going to get pitched around when you consider the hitter behind him, Ryan Zimmerman, is hitting .248 since the break.
While watching the Brewers series this weekend, one at-bat that stood out to me came in the third inning on Friday. With first and third and no one out, all Murphy had to do was put the ball in play to score a run. But, he ended up striking out and then struck out on three pitches against Josh Hader in the eighth (all swinging).
Now, strikeouts aren’t frowned upon as much compared to years past in baseball. With that being said, when a player strikes out more than normal, its something to keep an eye on. Due to most of the injured players back and the rosters expanding, maybe that will allow Dusty Baker to rest Murphy on occasion if there are any nagging injuries.
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There’s no need to worry about Murphy just yet. Remember he did have a great NLDS this year after only getting a few at-bats at the end of the year. However, keep an eye on if Murphy’s swing is different going forward and if the launch angle comes back.